By Agi Ngie, Shannon Turner
William Peace University kicked off the spring semester by engaging students, staff, and alumni in meaningful activities within the community.
On Jan. 20, Peace held its sixth annual MLK Day of Service. This event commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and is achieved by making a positive impact on the Raleigh community.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday and is seen as a day to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background. Late President Ronald Reagan was the one who signed a bill marking the third Monday of January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with the first national holiday being observed in 1986.
MLK Day of Service is Peace’s largest annual community service event. The program pulled together WPU students, faculty, staff, alumni and families to help make an impact both in Raleigh and on campus.
“With the help of you and everyone who volunteered, we were able to make a great impact in Raleigh and grow closer together as a WPU community,” said Graduate Assistant for Student Involvement Devin Sweeney. “We ended up having 88 participants who did a combined total of 264 volunteer hours.”
Before students were sent off to their sites, breakfast was served. This gave the volunteers time to mingle as they fueled up for their three hours of service, as well as get many words of encouragement in the opening ceremony that followed.
The ceremony featured WPU President Dr. Brian Ralph, Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, Ellie Barker, as well as the Young Alumni of the Year, Janna Joyner, Class of 2012.
The purpose of the opening ceremony was to reflect on MLK Jr.’s legacy and give purpose to not only the service but to acknowledge the importance of the day.
Ralph and Sweeney gave speeches emphasizing the importance of giving back, taking a stand, and doing what is right. They said the MLK Day of Service is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”
Participants completed up to three hours of service with one of the many local partners. In total, there were six sites available for students to go make a change. The site’s volunteers tackled included:
Raleigh City Farms
Morningside Assisted Living
The Salvation Army
Communities in Schools
First Baptist Clothing Ministry
Family Promise of Wake County
Furthermore, participants were guided by student and staff site leaders to help them reflect on the impact they are making on the community.
“It was such an honor for me to participate in Peace’s MLK Day of Service as an alumni,” said WPU Alumni Jody Moore. “As a volunteer, I had the privilege of serving on a team that partnered with Wake County’s Communities in Schools organization. How inspired and proud I was to be able to witness the passion and dedication of the diverse group of WPU students. It gave me such hope for the future of our community to witness the uniting of WPU students and alumni.”
Davyous Melvin, WPU sophomore, was especially excited about his site due to his current role as Peace’s Green Team president. He joined his fellow students at Raleigh City Farms for the opportunity to spend his class-free holiday on the farm.
“I feel like since we got the day off, you might as well give back,” said Melvin. “If the opportunity is there, why not?”
After three hours of actively engaging and connecting with the Raleigh community, participants went back to Peace with their site leaders. Later on, lunch was provided and a closing ceremony took place to thank the volunteers that came and made the event a success.
“It was a wonderful experience to interact with the public [and] to improve the lives of others. I was happy to be able to contribute towards a good cause, and we make sure to let them know we appreciate their contributions,” said WPU senior, Cheyenne Colburn.